Chapeaux Bardet! How many punctures, they were saying around six? He seemed to be chasing the whole day and it looked like he finally got on the GC chain in the closing moments of the stage. A remarkable ride from Bardet and his AG2R team, in particular Oliver Naesen, who managed to get him back on with moments to spare. The other remarkable ride came from Mikel Landa who hit the deck on a nothing bit of road while taking a drink. For a team that are 100% behind Quintana, Movistar sent everyone except Valverde back. I suspect they are still hedging their bets. AG2R need to look at who their tyre sponsor is!
For those who say this sort of racing does not belong in the tour, maybe ask Tom Doumoulin or some other riders, maybe including Quintana. After 2 dull flat stages that had 1 minute of excitement at the end, we had 3 hours of riveting enjoyment. The two most significant crashes happened on flat wide open roads. Sure there were some sore bodies, but look at most of the crashes on the cobbled sections and it looks like the riders end up hitting the deck in the dirt on the side of the road, and not on the bitumen. Ask Richie where he would rather crash…
But the first story of the stage is the comeback of Dega. I hope people watched his post race interview, especially as he looked at his index finger. I had a lump in my throat as I listened to him, knowing the struggles he has gone though. Two and a half years ago Degankolb, and a bunch of his team mates were mowed down by an old English lady driving on the wrong side of the road in Spain. There were many injuries but possibly the worst was the popular German, who almost lost that finger he looked at. It took him a long time to come back, and he was written off by everyone. This was his first World Tour since the accident, and if he never wins another race, it does not matter, he has won again, and the demons are behind him.
The second story was that of BMC. What a great first week with Greg van Avermaet in yellow. But the wheels came off the BMC wagon big style yesterday. Richie Porte crashed in the first 10km doing his collarbone and on stage 9 for the 2nd year in a row. How much bad luck can one guy endure, and still manage a smile? Maybe it is good he changes kit next year for Trek in the hope that a leopard can change his spots. But it got worse when their Plan B, Tejay Van Garderen, crashed and was never really in the game after that. As a plan B, Tejay is not the best as he normally fades in the 3rd week, so maybe that will open BMC for stage victories. However, after the first week, they can come away with a successful tour.
I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying! So I should get on to the tipping comp. No change with the top 2 with Chuck Charity 17 holding Babel off by a single point. Gilbert helped Babel, but not enough. So the first rest day prize of $30 goes to Chuck Charity 17, with $20 going to Babel. A late charge from Team Red Eye gets her into 3rd spot at the Spaniards expense, for the $10 3rd place prize. No change with the bottom 4, with Il Papa holding on to last spot. Biggest mover was Cat Six 3 up 66 spots. Closely followed at 64 points by Stuey and McEpic. The latter closing the gap to Mrs McEpic to 16 points. Did you need to try and bribe me?
So, rest day redraw will happen tonight. For those at the top, stop whining. New teams will be posted tomorrow.